Solomon Airlines and the country's tourist authority are pushing for a travel bubble with other countries in Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia.

The airline has grounded international flights until the end of August but the tourist group says the Covid-free status of a group of nations makes the time right to work on a travel bubble.

Earlier this week, no cases of Covid-19 had been reported in Solomon Islands or Vanuatu, nor in the sovereign states of Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu, the organisations said.

Premium - Grant Bradley: Airlines and coronavirus - Air NZ and flyers hit turbulence
Premium - Covid-19 coronavirus: Consumer, travel agents say airlines must refund, not credit
Premium - Covid 19 coronavirus: Small NZ airlines hanging by a thread
Premium - Grant Bradley: Coronavirus and Air New Zealand - time for cool heads


Josefa Tuamoto, chief executive of Tourism Solomons said many countries in the wider region had adopted new screening protocols and are now better informed and equipped to diagnose and treat Covid-19 should an issue occur.

"While Australia and New Zealand continue to explore options for a transtasman bubble, we believe there is merit in forming a travel bubble of intra-regional Pacific nation groupings,'' he said.

In total the countries have a population of about 1.5 million but the bubble would cover a vast area of the Pacific.

"An arrangement between Solomon Islands and Vanuatu for example, could help our countries in their preparedness before opening borders to larger leisure destinations," he said.

Brett Gebers, chief executive of Solomon Airlines said that as the national carrier and especially in the current climate it "must do our best to consider the needs of Solomon Islanders now and in the future.

"It is vitally important for communities and for the economy, that we help people to travel again with confidence, within the Solomon Islands and in the not too distant future, to and from international destinations.

Solomon Islands tourism businesses in particular were hit hard by international border closures, however the country was one of the very few to remain Covid-19 free.

"That is a significant achievement and a credit to the Solomon Islands Government for putting the welfare of Solomon Islanders first. It is also a very positive and significant factor in future tourism development,'' said Gebers.


Gebers supported the concept of a Pacific Travel Bubble allowing quarantine-free movement between Covid-free countries within Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia.

"Travel bubbles, or travel bridges allow quarantine free movement of travellers from certain countries where the coronavirus has not occurred or has been contained.''

Countries deemed to be included in the bubble would agree to open their borders to each other, but may keep borders to all other countries closed for a period of time.

The proposal comes as plans for a New Zealand-Australia bubble are complicated by the worsening outbreak of Covid-19 in Victoria although pressure remains on to establish an arrangement between this country and the Cook Islands.